Saturday, April 5, 2014

New Look 6123

Pin ItI'm thinking I need to get a tripod and a camera remote if I'm ever to blog regularly. I've a backlog of things to blog about but everytime I seem to try and take photos they never work out. Luckily today the weather was good and I was able to rope one of my friends who was visiting to help me. 

I've just started my general medicine rotation and was able to finish this dress off during my half day. I finished my emergency medicine rotation about two weeks ago, and promptly caught gastroenteritis requiring hospitalisation thereafter; but I'm better now and have boundless empathy for my patients. 

I had to make a few adjustments to this dress as it was clearly made with a taller person in mind. I did however manage to keep the darts on the bodice and the skirt aligned which always makes it look that much nicer. I'm trying a new thing where I keep a notebook of my pattern alterations so I know for next time what I need to do. I'll probably do a muslin of my new bodice once I copy those edits onto my paper pattern piece. I know some people aren't a fan of pdf patterns, but since I already copy my tissue patterns to paper before  transferring them to fabric, pdf patterns reduce a lot of prep time. 

I had to change from a 20 inch invisible zip to a 24 inch normal zip for the back so I'd be able to fit the dress over my booty. Also my kick pleat is getting a lot of use clearly, I promise I did iron it before I wore it ... yesterday, before a full day of work. 

I bagged and lined my dress instead of using facings as I used broadcloth fabric which is a bit on the sheer side in sunlight. I also had to hand stitch the sleeves in to set them. I ended up tucking the bottom of the sleeves in, instead of leaving them out, flap like as per the original pattern.

Pattern Description: 2 in 1 pattern, sheath dress and wrap front dress, with additional ruffle front details.

Pattern Sizing: 8 - 18  

Did it look like the photo/drawing on the pattern envelope once you were done sewing with it? Yep  

Were the instructions easy to follow? I didn't follow the instructions but they were organised in an easy to understand manner.  

What did you particularly like or dislike about the pattern? The smallest pattern size was an 8 and was too big on me. The dress required a few alterations so I wouldn't recommend it beginners. I like the style and fit of the dress. 

Fabric Used: Broadcloth and rayon lining.  

Pattern alterations or any design changes you made: I changed the sleeve style but used the same flange pattern by tucking the ends of the flange in to the bodice. I also bagged and lined the dress instead of using facings using this tutorial ( I took in the bodice darts 0.5 inch each. Took in the sides of the bodice 1 inch each. Took the bodice up by 2 inches and took 2 inches from the top of the skirt. I also added in side seam pockets.  

Would you sew it again? Would you recommend it to others? I'm definitely planning on sewing this dress again. It's a great work dress and would recommend it to others. 

Happy crafting!

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Hiccuping Chiffon Cakes

Pin ItSo I probably haven't had chiffon cake for years. My mum used to buy them from the Asian grocery store when I was younger and I used to love the odd colour and the texture.

Last year I was looking for something to bake mum for mother's day and stumbled upon this pandan chiffon cake recipe by The Little Teochew and it was amazing.

The only thing is I never know what  to do with a whole can of coconut milk once I've opened it, so this time I made 3 pandan chiffon cakes in a go to solve that problem. 

Don't worry, I did give some of them away and not eat them all myself. But I still did get hiccups. I pretty much always get hiccups when I eat pandan chiffon cake, and it's basically due to my greedy nature, the cakes are so soft and fluffy, and I inevitably cut a larger-than-decent-for-a-single-person-slice and eat it to quickly, thus the hiccups. So as long a you're pacing yourself you'll be ok. Definitely worth the hiccups if you don't though.

22-cm chiffon cake tin, mine's aluminum (you need a fluted cake pan that's NOT non-stick; i.e. chiffon cake forms it's skin by sticking to the pan and in a non-stick pan it just won't work) 
Check out my ombre cast iron pot (it was 85% off RRP)
Ingredients A
- 7 egg yolks
- 75g coconut milk
- 4g pandan essence/ concentrated fresh pandan extract
- 150g cake flour (low gluten flour) - found in Asian groceries stores

- 4g baking powder (1 scant tsp)
- 75g caster sugar
- 3g salt
- 83g vegetable oil

Ingredients B
- 7 egg whites
- 100 g sugar

I separate my eggs one by one by using a smaller bowl before transferring the egg white into the bowl that will be used for whipping the whites, just in case I need to rescue egg shells pieces from the whites 

1. Preheat oven to 160°C fanforced.

2. Combine egg yolks, coconut milk and pandan extract in a mixing bowl. Double sift flour, baking powder and salt. Add flour mixture and sugar into the bowl. Add vegetable oil and whisk everything to combine.

3. In a separate and clean bowl, beat egg whites and sugar together till it forms soft peaks.

4. Slowly fold egg white into egg yolk mixture in 3-4 additions.

** a glass bowl is best for folding the mixture into as you can see how well you are doing

5. Pour cake mixture into an ungreased tube pan.

6. Bake for 45 minutes.


7. Flip the pan upside down against a bottle on kitchen counter and let cool for 25-30 minutes/until the pan is warm to touch without a mitt. If your pan has feet you won't need a bottle. 

8. Using a butter knife flatten it between the side of the cake and the tin and run it all the way around. Loosen the outer ring of the chiffon pan. Now use the knife to loosen the base of the cake pan from the cake. 


Orange Chiffon Cake

I also made an orange chiffon cake as per Rasa Malaysia's recipe, which was a bit different to my tried and true pandan chiffon recipe but it still worked out really well.

The key difference was that the egg whites had to be whipped to stiff peaks and it rose a lot more than the pandan chiffon.  



7 Egg yolks
50g (¼ cup) Caster sugar
¼ tsp salt
4 Tbsp Cooking oil
2 Tbsp Grated orange rind (about two oranges worth)
60ml (4 Tbsp) Orange juice
110g (4 oz) Cake flour (low gluten flour)

7 Egg whites
1 tsp lemon juice
130g (2/3 cup) Caster sugar

  1. Preheat oven to 160C/325F.
  2. To make egg yolk batter, beat egg yolks with sugar till pale, then add in salt and oil, mix briefly till looks like mayonnaise.
  3. Add in grated orange rind, orange juice and orange colouring (I omitted) and mix well. Fold in sieved flour until forms batter.
  4. To make egg white foam, beat egg whites and cream of tartar until mixture forms soft peaks. Gradually add in sugar, beating at high speed until stiff peaks form.
  5. Gently fold beaten egg white foam into egg yolk batter in 3 batches until fully combined. (Do not overmix)
  6. Pour batter into ungreased tube pan.
  7. Bake in preheated oven 50 minute.
  8. Immediately upon removing the cake from the oven invert the pan (turn upside down) and place on a bottle or flat surface so it is suspended over the counter. Let cool completely before removing the cake from pan.
  9. To remove cake from pan, run a thin bladed knife or a palette knife around the side of the pan and center core, release the cake and run the knife along the base of the pan to remove cake.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Compendium Case

Pin ItBest laid plans and all that. I have been doing a tiny bit of sewing, mostly working on this compendium case in between time off work. And am sort of within my fortnightly posting schedule, if you squint at a calender and give up on reading the numbers exactly because it's just too hard.

But with the heat wave in Melbourne last week, five consecutive days above 41 degree celcius (105F) and a house inspection this week I haven't had much time. Inspiration came in drips and drabs, and it took a couple of days to figure out which fabrics matched and then another couple of days to unpick and retry the wrap around zip again. And by that point I was filled with the desire to just get it done. So although the bias tape is wonky and the iPad holder corners not exactly even, it's still pretty functional. As always there is a pocket for my erstwhile phone. And given that I just purchased my first ever iPhone I'd like to refrain from both loosing it and dropping it, which I'm want to do.

The other side is a clipboard pocket with a pen holder. The ipad/iphone holder side is a pocket and is made sturdier with a thick piece of cardboard in the pocket.

To make up for the short post I have some cute updates of Russell, who seemed to thoroughly enjoy the heatwave last week. We regularly sprayed him down with the hose and got him one of those plastic clam shell pools to play in. At first he was scared but we lured him in with some treats, and then he was all over it, bobbing in the pool for all his toys and tennis balls. 

Russell with his new favourite toy, a bunch of fabric braids in a holee ball. Keeps him entertained and from jumping up on the table, although we keep having to stuff the slobbery fabric into the ball.

Happy Craft

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Two new skirts in two days of new year

Pin ItSo this year I have a goal to participate in Me Made May, which means I have about 5 months to make 30 days worth of clothes. But given that I'm going to be spending 90% of my time in the hospital and the rest in pajamas, I've been trying to perfect my self drafted pencil skirt block via this tutorial with my previous versions here and this diagonal pocket skirt here. I managed to make these in under 2.5 hours each from tracing to cutting and sewing, which for me is pretty good. And I didn't have to edit the fit, finally figured out my waistband issues and basically went full throttle on my machine, zig-zagging the edges like a crazy lady. 

This houndsooth fabric was the first fabric I ever bought online, I bought 3 yard and the shipping was $26! I definitely would not be paying that for 3 yards now, although shipping has gone up, so I may yet eat my words.

Still yet to find the perfect place to photograph my clothes in the house, but I did move the bookshelf opposite the sliding door featured in this post, so I can now just place the camera on a shelf instead of on 10 shoe boxes so I don't get that double chin look. 

This next skirt is a patterned duck fabric, which is a medium weight fabric I was planning on using for a bag or a apron. But then I saw this picture of Fiona over at Diary of a Chain Stitcher and I wanted a black and white pencil skirt.

So this is less pencil skirty due to the lack of stretch in the fabric and more straight lined as I  don't want to be splitting the back seam for the sake of fashion. How awkward would that be. And knowing me it would happen.

The fabric doesn't photograph well but this is what it looks like up close.

I'm going to try and post at least once every two weeks. So I'm trying to whip up some projects to get through before I start my life as an intern in T minus four days. I want to make a nicer version of my blue princess seam dress with circle skirt

I managed to pick up this princess seam dress for 20 cents in a local op shop whilst I was on my country surgical rotation. To give you an idea of the incredible saving this was, patterns usually retail for $16 - 20 dollars here from the big 4. And the best thing was that this pattern is completely untouched. The previous owner had traced the size 10 pattern onto a medium weight paper already. Also their handwriting looks weirdly like mine, I really had to stare at it. 

Also if you haven't already seen it, this is the bag I taught my 12 year old cousin to make for her mother's Christmas present, not bad for a first time sewist.

Happy Crafting

Monday, December 16, 2013

Graduation Day Dress

Pin ItAfter five long years of early morning starts, late finishes, more knowledge about the smell of bloody stools and pus than I care to know, I have finally graduated this past week and am officially a doctor! 

No longer at the bottom of the food chain. Well sort of, we're still at the bottom of the food chain but I'll be paid, which means more money for fabric and sewing equipment. And hopefully not less time for blogging. 

Since I've started on making my own dresses my goal was to make a dress for one of my graduation events i.e. Graduation ball or Graduation day. I can't even remember how I came across this pattern but if it's good enough for Gertie, it's definitely good enough for me. I remember searching the interwebs for a work dress type pattern, and then it was out of print, but luckily there was one for sale on ebay in Melbourne as well.

If you follow me on facebook you may have seen the mock up of my dress in blue crepe, I picked it up from a country op shop whilst I was away on my surgical rotation. 4 meters for $5. 

I'm not good at matching my size IRL to that on the envelope so I cut a 10 and ended up taking in 6 inches from the bodice. And the Disney princess sleeves in the wearable muslin were not flattering even once I had cut the proper size. 

The confusing thing about this dress pattern is that there is no waist measurement even though everyone who loves eating knows that the tightness of the waistband dictates the amount of food one eats, and thus the wearability of the dress. What can I say I pick my clothes based on comfort factor especially after eating.

Like my model shot? My dad took a sneaky picture whilst I was attempting to fix my shoe, lucky he did as it's the only one I have of my dress from the day. 

I'm seriously proud of this invisible zipper, it's actually quite invisible and the seams match up. 

 I bagged the bodice lining and it came out quite well as I understitched it to avoid it peeking from the top.

I did try the Disney-esk pattern sleeves in this dress as well, but had to redraft my own cap sleeves to make it wearable.

Pattern Review

Pattern Description: Princess seam bodice with pleated skirt and waistband

Pattern Sizing: 4-12

Did it look like the photo/drawing on the pattern envelope once you were done sewing with it? My dress looked pretty similar to the one on the envelope as I had a similar colour. I didn’t really notice the puffiness of the sleeves on the envelope model until after I had put mine in. It looks more flattering on her than it did on me.

Were the instructions easy to follow? The instructions were quite good in terms of how they ordered them. However, the instructions on how to add an invisible zipper, line the bodice and sew the split were a bit confusing; there are better instructions on the internet.

What did you particularly like or dislike about the pattern? I liked the shape of the bodice and overall silhouette of the dress. However, the sleeves were way to puffy, Disney princess style, so I replaced them with self drafted cap sleeves. I also wasn't too keen on the thickness of the waistband.

Fabric Used: Cotton sateen and a poly non-static lining.

Pattern alterations or any design changes you made: I used self drafted cap sleeves and decreased the waistband height to help with waist definition.

Would you sew it again? Would you recommend it to others? I would sew this dress again, but would recommend that beginners use a muslin as the fit was a bit difficult.

Conclusion: Good pattern for a work dress or a special occasion dress with a flattering sweetheart neckline. 

Happy Crafting!

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Simplicity 2444 dress

Pin ItFinally back from Bendigo rural rotation and now have unlimited access to my sewing machine, plus or minus studying for exit exam and organising a puppy sitter for Russell. I managed to cut this dress out whilst on rotation and then sewed it up in 2 hours when I was back for the weekend. It's been done for a couple of weeks but miserable weather and a dog who has developed a habit of licking my clothes when he sees me for the first time in them means it has taken a while to get a good photo.

Funny story actually. I tried to put on my dress to photograph yesterday and it wouldn't fit! I put it over and under and it wouldn't go over my shoulders or butt. And I really did not think I had put on thatttttttttt much weight whilst I'd been away. Lucky I realised I had sewn up the zipper and resewn a dodgy looking section on my invisible zipper which interrupted the zipper track.

Also it has pockets!

In the making of this dress I learnt to bag and line a dress which was definitely easier than fiddling with facings and facings popping out when you attempt to wear it. 

I'm still not exactly certain on my pattern size. I cut a size 6 which fits very nicely as long as I have a longer zipper to help get it over my butt. I ran out of fabric for my skirt so I cut rectangular blocks and did a quick running stitch to gather it to make the skirt, took very few minutes.

Pattern Description: Fit and flare dress with diagonal pleat bodice

Pattern Sizing: 6

Did it look like the photo/drawing on the pattern envelope once you were done sewing with it? yes

Were the instructions easy to follow? Yes, but I did a bagged lining rather than facings for the dress. I didn't use the proper skirt pattern as I only had 2 metres of fabric

What did you particularly like or dislike about the pattern? Liked the unique bodice but not too sure how good the sizing was

Fabric Used: Black Broadcloth

Pattern alterations or any design changes you made: Bagged lining and simple gathered skirt

Would you sew it again? Would you recommend it to others? Yes, good wardrobe builder

                                                       Happy Crafting!

Monday, October 21, 2013

Salme Sleeveless Dress Review

Pin It
I'm currently on a rural surgical placement about 2 hours away from home, which means I'm also away from Russell and my sewing machine. Russell is getting bigger, and now has a slightly golden tinge since he's shed his puppy coat all over the house. I attempted to take a photo of the new dress outside but he kept wanting in on the photo, I did manage to get one of him and then accidentally deleted it! Will post some soon. 

So the away from the sewing machine means that this dress has been sitting around, gathering dust, and Russell fur for about 3 weeks. This weekend I finally had time to fix it.

I had it near done before I left for placement, but when I tried it on the elastic waistband was too large. So the second time around I measured my waist and cut off 2+ inches and added the slash pockets which I had forgetton to add in the first time in the excitment of trying on my new dress. 

One of my favourite dresses is an elastic waistband striped jersey dress, and for my straight/boy figure gives the illusion of a waist. The elastic waistband on this dress is still a little loose and the overall silhouette of the dress isn't as nice without a belt. Next time I'll sew up the dress and pop the elastic over that and see if I like the shape before sewing it all up. I might also try a more stretchy, thinner elastic.I followed this tutorial on how to encase the elastic in a french seam, it makes it look pretty on the inside, but uses up more fabric. Next time I need to remember this so I can added height to my pockets, I can still fit my phone though, so pretty and functional.

Overall quite happy with how the dress worked out. The instructions are minimal, and I couldn't figure out how to do the pleats properly, so as you can see they are uneven on the left compared to the right. 

Next time I'll also slip stitch the shoulder seams shut rather than be lazy and hem across it, because it pulls and doesn't look as nice. 

Will definitely try this dress again, maybe in a small polka dot print like this one 
or in a chiffon like the original.

Happy Crafting